Sunday, May 12, 2013

Chasing Sunsets (part: the second part)

Back to the jelly state, I arrived on too little sleep and having the feeling the day was going to be annoying.  I had to deal yet again with the bed people.  They managed to get delivery too me by the evening.  And I managed to ignore it until later that night.  I fetched Yinyer and her 60 lbs of baggage, all matching black with pink polka-dots.  After the delivery, Yinyer and I walked across the street for dinner and few cocktails.  I then decided it was a good idea to put the bed together.  Amazingly it hasn't fallen apart yet, and I only had one extra screw left over.

Thursday we had decided to do some Bourbon trail riding.  After a lunch of gourmet grilled cheese, we headed off to the Woodford Reserve distillery.  Of the distilleries I've been to, Woodford is probably the most scenic.  You drive through some rolling hills of picturesque horse farms to find the distillery down in the hollar (that's southern for "down in the small valley by the creek or the hollow").  Unlike some of the bigger distilleries, Woodford doesn't look like a small oil refinery.  We waited for our tour group to be called and headed off down to the operation.  Woodford has upgraded since the last time I was there and now gives everyone a headset to hear the guide, which is nice since in the past it's been hard to hear over the noise.  As usual the air is scented with the sweet aroma fermentation and the Angel's taking their share.  After the sampling, it was back to Louisville to obtain some souvenirs for Yinyer.  O'shea's offered official Derby glasses dipped in red wax from Maker's Mark, while Flanigan's offered Stella Artois chalices etched with the 139th Kentucky Derby logo.  All that was required was a purchase of the appropriate beverage.  Joining us was Kelle, and between the three of us we loaded Yinyer up with glassware aplenty.
Woodford Reserve
At one point I walked back to O'shea's to see if I could win the raffle for Oaks tickets.  I didn't, but while there an officer of the law escorted 4 young ladies in, one of which was some one of notoriety.  I had no idea who until informed that one Ms. Miranda Lambert was dining there that evening.  I still didn't know who she was.  I relayed this information to the ladiess back at Flanigans, who immediately tore off to check if indeed one Miranda Lambert was in the establishment.  I still have no idea who she is other than short and cute and apparently some form of country musician.

Friday we headed to Oaks.  My $50 suit accented with pink shirt and bow tie fit in nicely.  The Oaks day at Churchill can be more fun than Derby day.  There's all the pageantry and half the crowd.  We had also decided to spend the money for club level seats that included all you could eat food and drink.  I expected the standard track fare of hot dogs or chicken fingers.  I was mistaken.  It was a full catered spread of brats, BBQ pulled pork, and Buffalo chicken with sides and desserts.  The drinks were served in real glasses (while supplies lasted) and we obtained some more glassware for Yinyer.  The two fillies I bet paid off and I was up for the day, though I was unable to pull down the superfecta.  It was a beautiful day at the track.

Upon departing, I returned home and walked across the street to attempt to win Derby tickets.  TUrns out they weren't winning, but the manager gave me her tickets since she couldn't make it.  Score, free grandstand seats.  Saturday found us heading again to the track, again in my stylish $50 suit with purple accents.  This time, we parked much closer (and it was the best money spent all weekend I think) in some ones yard.  It was a cold, rainy day and promised to stay that way.  Yinyer picked up some ponchos for us, which were used all day until the rain stopped (just in time for the Derby).  We were tempted to split early, but hung in there to experience the most exciting 2 minutes in sports live and in person.  Afterwards, back home for dry clothes and dinner and evening cocktails.  In a fluke, I won money on the Derby.  I had bet the the #6 horse across the board.  Turns out the lady working the booth heard the 16 horse.  And number 16, Orb, won the race.  Woohoo!!!
Turn 4 of the 139th Kentucky Derby
Sunday was spent chillaxing and with movie time.  After Iron Man 3 (see it!!), we went for Mexican to celebrate Cinco De Mayo.  Later I met up with Courtney and was amazed that there were still roaming bands of partiers out going bar to bar doing shots.  I was personally spent and looked forward to having nothing to do for a day.  Monday, Yinyer managed to pack a full set of Stella Chalices, Derby glasses, and Oaks glasses in her bag... how I'm not sure, and we headed to the airport.  SHe to head back to ATL, me off to do my annual FAA required familiarization trip.  This year, the training manual says it's an ETOPS ride (ETOPS used to stand for Extended Twin engine OPerationS but can be more accurately described as  Engines Turn Or People Swim).  I'm given 4 days to accomplish this trip, and with the blessing of management I scheduled my fam ride to OGG and HNL.  So off to Maui I go.  The sacrifices I make for my job. 

While I've been to Honolulu several times over the years, I've never made it to any of the other islands.  I realize after a visit to Maui this has been a great oversight.  Honolulu, and Oahu, is very developed and very crowded.  Maui is not as developed and much less crowded.  I, at one point, had a whole beach almost to myself.  I like that.  No high rise hotels in sight, just sand, surf, and an extinct volcano.  So, I endured the two days there before heading over to Honolulu to endure another day there.  It was very trying times.  I did manage to almost kill myself on Maui.

I spent the first day driving around, initially up to the north side of the island to Paia, a small village with some quaintless and good coffee.  The I thought I'd take a quick drive up to Haleakala, the dormant volcano on the eastern side of the island.  Well, I thought it was a quick drive.  turns out the 32 miles of winding roads actually takes about an hour and a half.  And then theres the fun of driving through the clouds.  Not fog, actual clouds.  But once you punch through, it's beautiful clear skies and cool temps.  I wish I had brought appropriate shoes, as the trails didn't look particularly inviting for flip flop clad hikers.  But it was still an experience to stand above the clouds looking down into the crater.  And props to the over achievers who bike UP the mountain.  Thanx for making me feel real lazy.
Haleakala crater
Now to the part where I nearly died...  not really, but it was pretty sporting.  After the much longer than anticipated drive down Haleakala, I thought it would be nice to head to the HRC and pick up the obligatory guitar pin.  The Maui HRC is located in the town of Lahaina on the west coast, and the map form the rental agency showed a road around the north side of the island from Kaluhui.  The map didn't show that this road was actually a treacherous cliff side path that, for the most part, was one lane only.  So, again, my anticipated 30 minute drive turned out to be an hour and half of white knuckled gripping of the steering wheel with the occasional reversing course to a spot where the oncoming traffic could pass by.  It vaguely reminded me of the roads you see on the shows that specialize about dangerous roads in the Andes or some other third world country.  But other than the potential falling off the sheer cliff onto the jagged volcanic rocks part, it was a very scenic drive with lots of hidden bays and coves.  I did run across the visualization of the dream I'm going to start chasing.
The Dream
 When I finally arrived in Lahaina, I took the time to get a calming beverage and my souvenir before heading back to the hotel.  I arrived back at my room just in time to walk across the street and enjoy the sunset from the beach.  For some reason, I love sunsets over the ocean.  Especially if the clouds at scattered just right to cause the pastels to come aline in the sky.  And it's something I can just sit and enjoy without feeling the need to be rushed or be doing "something".  I don't think I'm alone in this, and I base that on the number of people that were sitting on the beach doing the same thing.

Maui Sunset
 The next morning, I woke earlyish and headed to the beach.  The beach choice for the day was a short drive south from the hotel to Makena State Park, also know as Big Beach.  It's not just a cleaver name.  The beach is wide and plenty long, and that day it was almost empty.  The drive down to Makena took me through the "town" of Wailea and Makena, both well developed into high priced hotels, condos and golf courses.  Then the manicured lawns stop suddenly when you cross into the park and the natural vegetation, or lack there of, takes hold.  I like the natural look better really.  After a few hours on the beach, I headed back up to get a Cheeseburger in Paradise before turning in the rental car.  I finished the day early after catching another beautiful sunset and getting some sleep before the 3 AM flight to Honolulu via Kona. 

Arrived in HNL early in the morning, just after sunrise, and was whisked away to the crew hotel.  Located by Ala Moana park, the hotel has a great view of the homeless population of Honolulu setting up camp.  Apparently they're not allowed to sleep there overnight, so they show up during day light hours and sleep there then.  I guess if you have to be homeless that Hawaii is one of the better places.

After grabbing a nap, i took a walk to find lunch at Duke's on Waikiki Beach.  I love Duke's and go there every time I'm on the island.  The staff is friendly and patrons are all happy.  I mean, it is Hawaii after all, you have to really work at being miserable.  I spent the afternoon meandering with no real plan, other than send a couple post cards and obtain a new iPhone cover (mine had disintegrated over the last couple days).  I spent a fair amount of time traversing Waikiki Beach from Duke's to Margaritaville to The Beach Bar.  Finally catching the sunset (yup, love them) before ending the day with a self cooked steak dinner at The Shore Bird. 

Again, early to bed to ensure being awake for the early shuttle to the airport and back to the mainland.  I left out all the flying around parts to keep the non airline types from being overly bored.  There was actually a good bit of knowledge obtained, more so than most my recent rides.  So it wasn't all beaches and Hawaiian Iced Teas.

I returned to Louisville to find a cool rain falling.  I was actually looking forward to being home for a bit and just crashing with nothing much to do.  The new apartment is still fairly clean, now that most the empty boxes have been sent to recycling, so there's no real bad feeling about about just lounging thinking I have so much to do.  Though, now that my phone just alerted me of the frost advisory (it's freakin May already!!!  seriously!) I'm wishing I was back in the tropics, the sunsets are much nicer.
Waikiki Sunset

Chasing Sunsets (part 1)

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity.  So much so, it's nice to be at home alone with nothing to do but hang pictures on the wall.  Of course, when that's done I'll be bored and ready to go again.  A brief summary: New apartment, saga of the new bed, BoSox game with Jersey, caught a cold, weekend in Hilton Head with many of my favorite people, Matt and Val's wedding, "Icing" in Savannah with my accomplice Joe, back to the ATL for Monday with Maggie, Tuesday afternoon with G-Ho and AXL, Tuesday evening with Yinyer and Jimmy Buffett, Woodford with Yinyer, Oaks with Yinyer and all you can drink seats, Derby with Yinyer and all you can get rained on seats, Off to Maui on a Monday, Arrive in Maui on a Tuesday...  beaches and sun, day tripping to Waikiki, back home.

Any questions? What??  You'd like some elaboration???  Well I'd be happy to:

My last posting was about the move into a new place.  It still feels like it's 90% there.  Though I do have new "art" on the walls, which consists of canvas prints I had made from pictures I've taken on various continents.   The biggest issue was getting a bed delivered.  It took almost 2 weeks to get it to my place.  Mainly because the discount place, American Freight Furniture, doesn't seem to be able to handle logistics.  Keep that in mind if you are looking for a good deal.  But finally arriving just in time for Derby weekend.  Luckily I didn't have to sleep on the couch.

But now for fun stuff, finally made it to see Jersey in Boston.  Unfortunately Spring weather had yet to arrive to meet Jersey in Boston and I spent the day meandering around the city (from Irish pub to Irish pub) in the rain.  Then it was off to Fenway (woohoo!!) for a Red Sox game in the rain and cold, but at least we had covered seats.  I was able to get a cold beer and a Fenway frank and watch the Red Sox thoroughly blow it against the A's.  I've never seen a balk called live at a game, but now I have... twice... in the same inning.. with 2 errors.... and 8 runs scored.  But hey, at least I was at Fenway (woohoo!!).
Fenway, circa 2013 (or 1913?)
The next day I woke up and discovered on the climb out from Boston I had caught a cold.  Nothing like flying with a head cold and the feeling of ice picks being jabbed into your ears during the pressurizing of the cabin.  Arriving back at home for a couple days I commenced to medicating heavily and overdosing on vitamin C, having to be back on my game for the coming weekend.  Unfortunately i picked up a persistent cough.  I got bronchitis... ain't nobody got time for that!

So, Friday morning rolled around and it was time again to fly.  I still had the cold going but at least this time I wasn't in agonizing pain on the flight to ATL.  I just felt like I was underwater for a day or so.  I arrived  early and enjoyd some lovely airport appreciation time before being fetched by TanJoe for the road trip to HHI.  Way back in the day, not too long after I had purchased my Accord in the late 90's, I was having trouble sleeping (as I worked nights then too) and decided to road trip it to Tybee for sunrise.  Seemed reasonable at the time.  While down there I drove to Hilton Head... and got a speeding ticket in a small speed trap known as Bluffton, SC.  I got a lecture from the small town sheriff about how people come speeding through his town (probably because the speed limit drops from 45 to 25 in distance of about 5 yards) and nearly run over a kid last week (to which i wanted to respond they should teach their kids not to play in the damn road... but i didn't).  But that's ancient history.

Back to present day, Hilton Head reminds me of Stepford by the beach.  I don't think I could live there, mainly due to a lack of financial resources or golfing interest.  But it was a nice place to visit.  It became a great place to visit once all the friends arrived and set up in our various "villas".  And there's a beach.  Unfortunately spring has barely arrived in South Carolina and it was a bit cool.  During check in, the front desk lady was running through the rules when she added, almost as an after thought, that we should not feed the alligators.  Now, the three of us (TanJoe and myself) were all kind of half listening to the rules until she said that... when we all 3 both were suddenly attentive and simultaneously went "What?? Alligators?!".  No where on the resorts website did it mention the possibility of death by gator.
The villa's Ocean View
The rest of the weekend passed in a relaxing haze of beer and laughter.  There was a short meeting of the board of the Black Sheep Brewery and Maple Syrup company.. where we sampled more products from competitors to get an idea what direction we wanted to brew in.  At some point during the getting dressed process for the wedding, some one thought it was a good idea to let Jamie be incharge of the two little ones in our midst.  For a period of 20 minutes or so, AXL and Gabe (both about 1 year old) enjoyed pressing every button on the 90's era boombox and combo DVD/VCR that were part of our rental unit.  Of course, they both felt the need to whack the electronics as hard as they could.  It's not our crap, so I just let them go at it.  In the drinking contest that followed, Gabe took first in the beer chugging event but AXL totally dominated the shots portion.  Then we settled in to watch some porn... until a real adult came and took charge of the children.  After that we were off to the most entertaining wedding ceremony in history (Marwaige.... Marwaige is what bwings us togewher) and a fun reception that followed.  It was great to see Matt and Val again after so long, and hope to see them more frequently in the future.

After the nights of hanging around with all the fun people, we bid adieu to Gracethon, AXL, the Berardii, and the rest of the clan Sunday morning for a day in Savannah.... since we were in the neighborhood.  Tanjoe, Adri, Michael, and I were spending the night there but were joined for lunch by Charity and Glenn  (Glarity anyone?) to celebrate Charity's birthday on the riverfront.  After wards, we checked in, and some of the less tired of us (ie Joe and I) decided to go back to River street and enjoy the lack of open container laws.  We were quickly recruited by our first bartender to go an "ice" his buddy who was tending bar a couple doors down.  "Icing" involves purchasing a Smirnoff Ice for another person, and then that person is required by some law to sink to their knees and chug the entire thing.  Well, it didn't go as planned, the second bar was no longer carrying Smirnoff Ice (due to a high incidence of "icing" amongst the local bartender community).  We came clean to our plan to the second bartender (who informed us he had been "iced" earlier that day by the first bartender), and he decided we should return to the first establishment to "ice" the other bartender.  Being down to do anything for a free beer, we accepted.  A quick trip to a gas station yielded us the required 22oz bottle of Sour Apple Smirnoff.  Back to the first pub, we informed the bartender there of our unsuccessful mission and returned his $5 ordered another round.  While pouring our two Black Smith's, I placed the Ice in front of us which elicited a serious of explicatives when the bartender turned back around.  By this time Tanya had found us and decreed that Joe was never to hang out with me alone again... it's not my fault we had scored 2 beers and a shot a piece for our activities.  The bartender did his ice, we took the picture and texted it to his friend, and enjoyed anohter beverage before heading down the street... drinks in hand.
Vinnie the Bartender getting "Iced".. I almost feel bad for having him drink such a vile beverage
That evening we found dinner with Adri and Michael and Tanya's local cousin Kara.  Followed by some more boozing down river street and a slight altercation with some shop owners (they shouldn't cry over spilt beer).  Monday, we bid adieu to Adri and Michael as they flew back to Boston (and made $250 in bumped passenger compensation plus an upgrade in seats...  NICE!) and Tanjoe, Kara, and I met for coffee then a trip to Ft Pulaski.  We toured the fort in the style of people in an episode of House Hunters.  I'm seriously considering putting an offer in, even thought he property is a real fixer-upper, but it's contingent on installing a "lazy river" in the moat. 
Dinner in Savannah
That afternoon we made it back to ATL, and I was able to spend the evening with the CEO and CFO of MaggieJack, Inc, (as the minority shareholder I occasionally get to spend some time with the executives consulting on fiduciary and operational issues for the organization) and we put to good use the bottle of wine pilfered from the wedding reception leftovers table. 

The following day found me stopping in for a visit to the Lewii to go over strategies with AXL for her next drinking contest.  Then I was off to attempt to locate some Oaks/Derby wear.  Mission accomplished at the JC Penney Outlet in Forest Park.  I got a fabulous tan suit and hat for under $50.  Score!!!

That evening I met up with Yinyer and we were off to St. Somwhere with Jimmy Buffett.  Unlike the last Buffett concert I went to, I made a point to remain lucid and ale to remember the entire concert.  Mission Accomplished.  I enjoy Buffett for his promotion of the beach lifestyle, and giving me ideas for my retirement.  We enjoyed the drunk people watching and hula skirts aplenty, and the general funness of the atmosphere.  The next morning I awoke to head back to KY for the second act of the vacation.
Lakewood is renamed St Somewhere
I suppose I should break this up, and this seems like a good place to stop the carnival for a moment.  Part deux to follow shortly.